Will new Delta – Korean JV partnership mean KE moves to GROUP 1 earning partner? What else does this mean for us?

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rene from Delta Points trying to get into the Korean Air lounge LAX Skyteam

Welcome to our Group 4 partner!

For a number of years now Delta has relegated Korean Airlines (KE) to the bottom of the earnings barrel aka Group 4 with those they really don’t like very much like Alaska, Hawaiian and Westjet.

will ke become group 1 partner

Click and you will be depressed

This has been an embarrassment since KE is a founding member of Skyteam and relegating them to the basement of earnings compared to the other “cool kids” in the Skyteam has been really frustrating.

group 1 delta partners earnings chart

We like these airlines!

The result has been surprising to many because they have gone and purchased tickets, that were often much cheaper on the KE website, and then credited those flights to Delta and then they see their points end up like this:

ke earnings if not a code-share flight is NO NO NO

What part of NO don’t you get?

Zeros across the board. Now the workaround to this was to always book on Delta.com KE flights as a Delta code-share and then you would earn full points. The downside was you were often times paying a MUCH higher price for the ticket this way than booking either on KE or on an OTA.

Well now in a photo opp and with a long press release that is slim on facts and details we learn in part that:

Highlights of the agreement, subject to regulatory approvals, include:

The intent to create a fully integrated trans-Pacific joint venture arrangement, with both airlines sharing the costs and revenues on flights and coordinating schedules for seamless, convenient connections.
A combined network, serving more than 290 destinations in the Americas and more than 80 in Asia, providing customers of both airlines with more travel choices than ever before.
Enhanced frequent flyer benefits, providing customers of both airlines the ability to earn and redeem miles on Delta’s Sky Miles and Korean Air’s SKYPASS programs.

“This agreement deepens our longstanding partnership with Korean Air and will provide the global access and seamless service our customers demand,” said Delta CEO Ed Bastian. “We look forward to providing customers of both carriers with industry-leading service between the U.S. and Asia.” – Delta News Hub (bold mine)

There is that word we hate so much again i.e. “enhanced”. What exactly does this mean? I have reached out to Delta and asked will this in fact mean a move back to Group 1 partner from the basement of Group 4? When will this move (if they do move) happen? What about tickets we already have purchased will they earn full points as a Delta flyer.

I will be sure to update this post when I get more info back but let’s hope this announcement is more than just fluff.

As a personal take, knowing how rough Delta plays with it’s friends and enemies, I’m guessing if all the moves are positive ones for us as frequent flyers it means KE is finally paying Delta what they have demanded for years. If so it could be many good changes for both earning and burning and even maybe Global Upgrades on KE are on the way (we can hope)! Time will tell. – René


SWAG Saturday: Last Delta 747 PLUS 3x by 3 Gogo Pass winners this week!

Last one. One more Metal Die Cast Delta 747-400 from Gogo to give away. But also this final week I will have 3 runner up winners who will EACH get 3 one time domestic use Gogo passes. The winner this final round gets a 1:400 scale Delta jet like you see above and 3 one-time Gogo passes (good till the end of September this year). Each of the 3 runners up will get 3 one-time … Continue reading